What You Should Know About Heart Strength and Surgery

July 19, 2022 2:17 pm Published by


After years battling osteoarthritis in your knee, you now need a knee replacement. But you also have heart disease. Is your heart strong enough for you to undergo surgery?

As part of the preparation for any type of surgical procedure, patients undergo comprehensive pre-surgical testing that helps ensure good overall health and stability prior to the procedure.

During this testing, your surgeon and other medical experts will take a careful look at your cardiac risk for a non-cardiac procedure. There’s no guesswork involved. Your medical team will use guidelines from organizations like the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association to gauge your heart strength and assess your surgical risk.

Why Cardiac Testing Is Needed

While modern-day advancements have made surgical procedures incredibly safe in most cases, there’s always some level of risk involved. During surgery, the heart and its blood vessels are under some amount of stress. Your heart rate and blood pressure may fluctuate due to anesthesia and other factors.

During some surgical procedures, such as joint replacement, there’s also a certain amount of blood loss. Any blood loss can put strain on the cardiovascular system.

That risk is why those who have known heart health issues—and even those who do not—undergo careful testing and analysis prior to surgery.

To determine whether it’s safe for you to have a surgical procedure, your provider will consider factors including the type of surgery and how long it will last, your age, your overall health, any existing heart conditions, your heart health risk factors, and how well you tolerate physical activity. Tests such as CT scans, electrocardiograms and lab work will also be performed to provide a well-rounded view of your health.

How to Strengthen Your Heart

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a heart health issue or not, you can always take steps to improve your heart health. This is a good idea at any time, but it’s especially important prior to surgery and the subsequent recovery.

Boosting your heart strength can help ensure you have the energy and endurance you will need to undergo and recover from surgery.

How can you strengthen your heart? Consider that the heart is a muscle. When you’re building up any other muscle, like the ones in your arms, you exercise those muscles.

The same is true for your heart. If you have a heart health issue, talk with your cardiologist about what types of physical activities to strengthen the heart are safe for you.

In general, nearly everyone can benefit from simply moving more. Taking regular walks at an intensity that gets the heart pumping will help boost heart strength over time. Joint-friendly exercises, such as swimming or water aerobics, can have a similar effect.

You can also take steps to improve your heart health with other lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and prioritizing quality sleep.

Following these guidelines in the weeks prior to your surgical procedure and being honest during your pre-surgical checkup about any symptoms you have can help ensure it’s safe for you to undergo surgery.


Your medical team, including cardiovascular specialists, will help determine if your heart is healthy enough for surgery. When you need us, Magnolia Heart & Vascular Center is here to help.

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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center